You've heard of foodbanks... now 'Treebanks' are giving poor families Christmas trees


Everyone knows about foodbanks and how they help people who've fallen through the welfare net.

But now a Cambridgeshire woman has gone a step further in an effort to share some Christmas cheer.

Hayley Dolbear, from March, knows exactly what it's like to face a bleak Christmas. She told the BBC: "Some years ago I had to make a decision about whether to get gifts for my two children, or a tree."

Fortunately, a kind soul came to her aid. "When a neighbour offered her unwanted one I just burst into tears," she said.

Now she's started a 'treebank' so that people can share their unwanted trees with those who can't afford to buy their own.

"People often upgrade their tree and this is better than sending them to landfill," she said.

The treebank project began last year and included donations from charity shops, which were "inundated" with them after Christmas. A friend stored those which weren't used until they could be moved to St John's church hall.

The vicar, Rev Clifford Stocking, said he was glad to help. "I wasn't expecting 150 of them, but I think it's a brilliant idea," he said.

Christmas trees donated for the Treebank project in Cambridgeshire.

Dolbear told the Wisbech Standard: "The response has been crazy. It has been a bit emotional. I can't believe people's generosity. I have piles and piles of decorations, lights, ornaments, boxes of brand new wooden decorations. You name it I've got it. What started as a little idea last year has grown into this massive thing."

She told Christian Today that trees had been coming in from "left, right and centre" and that she had just taken a call from Tesco offering £500 worth of chocolate tree ornaments.

The trees are being distributed through the March foodbank and a charity in Wisbech.